‘Malpractices have changed the equation’

Anukriti Sharma
Sunday, 2 July 2017

Sports photographer Kamal Sharma talks about the golden era of Indian cricket and how there are more restrictions now in sports photography.

Passionate about cricket and being a cricket player himself in Punjab University, Kamal Sharma enjoyed sports from a young age. So it is no surprise that he turned out to be one of the most sought after sports photographers of his time. Starting out as a freelance photographer, Sharma managed to form a strong equation with cricketers from across the world.

Sports photographer Kamal Sharma talks about the golden era of Indian cricket and how there are more restrictions now in sports photography.

Passionate about cricket and being a cricket player himself in Punjab University, Kamal Sharma enjoyed sports from a young age. So it is no surprise that he turned out to be one of the most sought after sports photographers of his time. Starting out as a freelance photographer, Sharma managed to form a strong equation with cricketers from across the world.

But of course, times were different and simpler back then. Now living happily in Dehradun, Sharma fondly talks about the time when he was pally with the Indian cricket team and how malpractices have changed the equation between photographers and cricketers.

According to Sharma, a perfect photograph is one that you have in your mind first and then click. He says, “Any photographer needs to have a passion for photography as well as the sport. Of course, during any match, a good photograph comes from a blink-and-miss situation, so you need to be alert and vigilant throughout the game. But a person who is passionate about the sport and has researched well about the players would know the style of each sportsman and which angle would be the best for a good picture.”

Technology has transformed sports photography. Shares Sharma, “Now, we have Wi-Fi, so we can easily send pictures from the ground itself.
Back in the day, I was the first person to click pictures of Rahul Gandhi and his girlfriend during India and England match but due to lack of technology, I couldn’t send it on time to Indian papers. I had 50 rolls which would take several days to develop. However, an English daily approached me for the picture and I gave them the rolls and they published the photographs.”

At the time of Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement, Sharma presented him 70 of his best photographs which successfully won the heart of the ‘God of Cricket’. 

But the relationship between players and photographers has changed drastically now. He says, “Earlier, we would sit with the players in the pit and joke around while the match was on. We had the freedom to move around the entire stadium and click pictures but not any more. Now, we are given spots to sit and take snaps from there. We can’t be too close to cricketers because of the rumours of malpractices in sports.” 

These restrictions have prompted Sharma to move to golf and covering local sports more now as compared to major leagues. He shares, “I don’t like restrictions. I work better and peacefully without them, which is why I went ahead to cover golf and have attended various tournaments so far.

I have photographed Tiger Woods as well. As for cricket, Ranji Trophy is easier to cover since there are fewer restrictions. I am really amused that big players come and play for Ranji Trophy but there are hardly any spectators, say, around 30. The major leagues have expensive tickets and still people opt for them. The glamour quotient is attractive nowadays.”

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